Morticians tower gaunt,
pale from preparation room’s leaching wattage,
glide ethereal above tiled floors
and deep plush carpet.
They wear black suits, perhaps one black suit,
made from the fabric of Superman’s cape—
indestructible. It is given them,
a perk, with their undertaker’s license.
They pocket enormous white handkerchiefs,
offer them with long knob-knuckled fingers
to grieving widows.
They accept loved ones at a basement door,
undress and bathe them,
drain their blood.
Loved ones appear to be asleep
but are really dead.
Morticians are the ultimate con men.
They neither eat nor drink,
do not attend funeral feasts, weddings
or birthday parties. Morticians do not have birthdays.
They are not called Ray or Bob;
their first name is always Mister.
They do not grocery shop, ride motorcycles
or go fishing, but live in fusty attics
among trunks of dry-rot clothing
and mummified mice,
burrow like grubs,
in the black, humus-rich soil of graveyards.
When you meet a mortician,
do not look him in the eye;
he measures you for a casket, spies your Versace watch,
marks you for the Eternal Guardian series—
carved walnut with solid brass fittings.
He smiles thinly, almost asks,
right then, if you will have your forever satin pillow
in ivory or ice blue.